Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.
Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says he 'felt really badly' about 'difficult choice' on travel bans Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Supreme Court weighs abortion restrictions Mask mandates on transit expected to be extended into March: report MORE said hard-hit states should "pause" reopening, Robert Redfield echoed Trump in pushing for schools to reopen, and Florida's death toll hit a daily record.
We'll start with Fauci:
Fauci says hard-hit states should be 'pausing' the reopening process
America's top infectious disease doctor Anthony Fauci said Thursday the states being hit hardest by coronavirus infections should not be moving forward with reopening, but stopped short of calling for full shutdowns.
"I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process, looking at what did not work well and try to mitigate that," Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told The Hill's Steve Clemons. "I don't think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down."
Different day, different answer: Fauci struck a different note than he did a day earlier in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, when he said states should consider shutdowns.
"I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down," he said Wednesday. "It's not for me to say because each state is different."
On Thursday, however, he softened his remarks: "I would hope we don't have to resort to shutdown."
More from The Hill event: Redfield says keeping schools closed poses greater health threat to children than reopening
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield is joining in President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE’s push to reopen schools.
"I'm of the point of view as a public health leader in this nation, that having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen," Redfield said Thursday.
Key context: The comments come as Trump presses for schools to reopen. On Wednesday, the president criticized the CDC in a tweet for "their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools," raising fears about the politicization of the country's leading public health agency.
But, the CDC says it's not changing its existing guidance: Redfield said that the CDC is not changing its existing guidelines for schools, but will be issuing additional guidance to provide more clarity. He said that guidance will address the role of parents and the importance of facial coverings in schools.
Florida records record number of coronavirus deaths
Florida recorded 120 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, a record high for the state that is seeing one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S.
More than 4,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Florida, according to the state’s health department.
Still, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor Walt Disney World pauses vaccine mandate after DeSantis signs new legislation MORE (R) has touted the death rate as relatively low compared to other states such as New York, noting that while case numbers are spiking, more of the new infections are in young people who are less likely to die than the elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
Experts had warned, however, that the death rate in Florida is ticking upward and that death rates are a lagging indicator of an outbreak since it can take several weeks to die after becoming sick.
Azar points to 'individual responsibility' as answer to mounting outbreaks
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday said people will need to take individual responsibility to curtail coronavirus outbreaks taking place across the United States.
Azar said the outbreaks were not being caused by the decisions of state governments to allow businesses to open, but by people not wearing face coverings and not social distancing once things did open.
"We don't believe it's about the fact of reopening in terms of a legal or regulatory structure," Azar told The Hill's Steve Clemons. "It's rather, how are we behaving within that context? Are we practicing appropriate social distancing, are we wearing facial coverings, especially in circumstances where we can't social distance?"
Contrast with Fauci: Fauci said explicitly earlier on Thursday that some Southern states reopened too quickly and not in accordance with White House guidelines.
"What we've seen, unfortunately, is that in some of the Southern states, the states have not really followed those guidelines in some respects and jumped over the benchmarks," Fauci said.
Mississippi governor to require masks in 13 counties, put limits on businesses
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Thursday issued an executive order for 13 of the state's 85 counties to require face masks and put limits on businesses as coronavirus cases climb.
The order will also ban indoor social gatherings larger than 10 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people, among other restrictions on businesses.
“Mississippi is in a fight for our lives," Reeves said at a press conference, adding that the state is “in the middle of a spike.”
Reeves said the order should be taken as a "wake-up call" for residents.
"To my fellow Mississippians, please take this as an alarm," Reeves said.
What we’re reading:
America is running short on masks, gowns and gloves. Again. (The Washington Post)
Who gets a vaccine first? U.S. considers race in coronavirus plans (New York Times)
Amid surge, hospitals hesitate to cancel nonemergency surgeries (Kaiser Health News)
Summer camps close after COVID-19 outbreaks among campers and staff (CNN)
COVID-19 death tolls now rising in key states after weeks of decline nationwide (Los Angeles Times)
State by state:
Texas parents face a frightening lack of information on coronavirus risks in child care centers (Texas Tribune)
Florida’s coronavirus death rate is trending up again after rising hospitalizations (Miami Herald)
COVID-19 is surging in rural Texas, threatening to overwhelm local hospitals (Texas Observer)
Disney World reopens as coronavirus cases spike in Florida (CNN)
Florida sheriff wins battle with DeSantis administration over coronavirus data (Yahoo News)
Op-eds in The Hill